- Relations between the Vatican and China are thawing after six decades
- Cardinal Joseph Zen said a rapprochement with China will ‘betray Jesus’
- China’s leading Catholic said Beijing still represses religious freedom
- He said striking a deal would be like negotiating with Hitler or Stalin
China’s most senior Catholic has blasted the Pope for a potential rapprochement between the Vatican and Beijing comparing it to striking a deal with Adolf Hitler or Joseph Stalin.
Cardinal Joseph Zen, the former bishop of Hong Kong, said any agreement the church makes with China would be ‘betraying Jesus Christ’ amid a thaw in more than six decades of bitter relations.
The state-controlled China Catholic Patriotic Association still controls the church and controversially appoints bishops without any input from the Vatican meaning sermons could be marred with rhetoric from the Communist Party.
And Cardinal Zen, 84, said that at any agreement where Beijing would have a hand in approving clergy would be ‘a surrender’.
‘Maybe the pope is a little naive, he doesn’t have the background to know the Communists in China,’ Zen said at the Salesian school in Hong Kong where he teaches.
‘The pope used to know the persecuted Communists (in Latin America), but he may not know the Communist persecutors who have killed hundreds of thousands.’
‘You cannot go into negotiations with the mentality ‘we want to sign an agreement at any cost’, then you are surrendering yourself, you are betraying yourself, you are betraying Jesus Christ,’ Zen told the Guardian.